Lung cancer still wreaks havoc in the region

Lung cancer still wreaks havoc in the region
Lung cancer still wreaks havoc in the region

Lung cancer, the most common, still wreaks havoc in the region. An average annual number of 413 cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean between 2016 and 2020, compared to 354 between 2011 and 2016.

Still between 2016 and 2020, no fewer than 249 deaths linked to the disease were reported each year.

This is what emerges from the portrait of the situation which was unveiled today by the Regional Public Health Department in order to raise awareness among the population of risk factors, particularly those linked to smoking.

People aged 70 and over are those with the highest incidence and mortality rates, underlines Dr. Martin Fortin, medical consultant for public health.

“What affects us is that we have an aging population. The more this is the case, the more we find deaths and diseases that cause people to die at an advanced age. The increase in the number of lung cancers and mortality are elements already taken into consideration by the CIUSSS to treat and prevent the disease. »

On the other hand, adds Dr. Fortin, when we take into account age-standardized rates, we notice a decrease in the incidence of lung cancer in the region.

“Historically, we had an incidence of lung cancer and mortality for this disease which was much higher than what was happening in the rest of Quebec. Our curves are descending and we have practically joined the rest of Quebec. That’s very good news. »

This age-standardized incidence rate for lung cancer decreased in men and increased in women between the periods 1986-1990 and 2016-2020. However, it still remains higher among men than among women.

Two RLS stand out

Two local service networks (RLS), those of Jonquière and Domaine-du-Roy, stand out in the region with standardized incidence rates that are slightly higher than the others.

Dr. Fortin emphasizes that we must, however, be careful about the reliability of the data.

“We have to be careful, because we have a small number of people at the population level, therefore fluctuations to take into consideration. On a statistical level, small numbers are always annoying. What we know is that the two (RLS) stand out with slightly higher standardized rates. On the other hand, when we look at what is happening in terms of mortality, these two networks have comparable rates. »

Main risk factor

Regarding the main modifiable risk factor for lung cancer, that of smoking which is responsible for 72% of all cases, the proportion of adult smokers (regular or occasional) increased from 30% to 16% between 2000 and 2018 according to the regional health survey. But we must continue to promote healthy lifestyle habits, believes the doctor.

“Cigarettes are also responsible for a range of other cancers and chronic diseases as well. What we measure today is a reflection of what happened 30 or 40 years ago. It can take several years of exposure to cause lung cancer. »

And there are two other factors still unknown, namely cannabis and vaping. More in-depth studies will be needed to clearly demonstrate the risks associated with lung cancer.

“Many smokers switch to vaping and there is a risk that they will return to cigarettes. But in both cases there are many harmful elements such as combustion products. What is the risk? It will take several years to find out. »

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